How to Use an External Hard Drive With ITunes

By Christopher Capelle

Apple’s iTunes has revolutionized the way we listen to, store and buy music. Although a large music library no longer requires yards and yards of shelf space, it does require an ample amount of hard drive space. As time has passed, hard drives have become cheaper, while offering an ever-larger capacity. Many users choose to use an external hard drive to store their music libraries. The reasons include needing more space than the internal drive of their computer is able to offer, to be able to tote the external drive around for use wherever they travel, or to comply with corporate protocol and not put any personal information on a company computer.

Step 1

Attach the hard drive to your computer. If your computer can handle a FireWire drive, use it because it’s faster than a USB connection and will improve music play.

Step 2

Open iTunes and select "Preferences." Click on the "Advanced" tab and you will see the path to your music library. Click "Change" and navigate to the external hard drive. You can create a new folder or select an existing folder on the external hard drive.

Step 3

Add music into your library. If you have an existing music library on your internal hard drive, click the "File" menu, select "Add To Library" and select the iTunes music folder on your internal hard drive. This will copy the music into the new folder, but not delete it from your hard drive.

Step 4

Delete the music files from your internal hard drive once the files have finished transferring. Make sure you can play your music before deleting the files from your internal hard drive.

Step 5

Back up your iTunes folder on a regular basis, if you have purchased music or rare tracks that can’t be replaced easily. Don’t bother backing up the music that you have on a CD, because the CD can serve as your backup.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the capacity of your external hard drive on a regular basis to make sure you’re not pushing the envelope on storage space.
  • Downloading music illegally is a bad idea; not only is it punishable by law, you may be exposing your PC to crippling viruses.